Diets of ten species of Lake Superior salmonines are described. Rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) were the primary prey during all seasons and years for inshore lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), brown trout (S. trutta), brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), and splake (lake trout x brook trout hybrid). Coregonines were the second most-important prey for chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), siscowet trout (S. namaycush siscowet), and splake. Invertebrates were important to rainbow trout (O. mykiss), coho salmon (O. kisutch), and pink salmon (O. gorbuscha), especially during the summer. Diets of lake trout from inshore and offshore locations differed markedly. Rainbow smelt were the primary food of inshore lake trout, and coregonines were the main food of offshore lake trout. Chinook salmon and inshore lake trout had the most similar diets because they ate similar proportions of rainbow smelt and coregonines. Salmonines generally ate more rainbow smelt and less coregonines in proportion to the abundance of these prey in the lake. If rainbow smelt populations collapse, the ability of salmonines to convert to a diet based on lake herring (Coregonus artedi) could be important to the stability of predator populations.
Additional publication details
Food of salmonine predators in Lake Superior, 1981-87